Top Songs


Singles & EPs

Appears On

About Cali Aleman

Cali Aleman is an award-winning salsa singer and one of the true innovators of the Spanglish sound. His voice has graced monster hits such as "Macarena," "I Like It Like That," "Swing en Espanol," and of course, "Torero." He has three gold and two platinum albums to his credit, and charting singles with several outfits. He has worked with a number of historic ensembles, from la Sonora Mantancera, Fania All-Stars, and Tito Puente to Eddie Palmieri, the Original Latin All-Stars, and many more.

Aleman was born and raised in Nicaragua during the late '60s and '70s. His first gig as a singer was with the popular band los Kramers and later los Juniors, before he co-founded Bwana. After leaving that group, he joined the Cuban group Klimax as its lead vocalist.

Aleman was restless because he had a destination in mind -- New York -- and wanted to join its thriving salsa scene in the late '70s. That said, he went to San Francisco first. He worked with the best producers in the city and was hired to participate on recordings such as Santana's Festival, Gato Barbieri's Tropico, Patti Labelle's Tasty, and many others. After relocating to New York (finally), he was hired by the famed la Sonora Mantancera to sing alongside Celia Cruz. He also fronted the Javier Vazquez Orchestra for the celebrated Ritmo y Sabor.

The gig was relatively short-lived, as Aleman had become even more ambitious. He was befriended by Johnny Pacheco and asked to sing the with Fania All-Stars on occasion. He was hired by Ray Barretto as lead vocalist for two years before approaching Eddie Palmieri about singing with his orchestra; the great pianist agreed and made him a full-time member of his band. Aleman was the lead vocalist on Masterpiece and La Verdad. With Palmieri, he performed at Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, and the Montreux Jazz Festival (he was also still moonlighting with Barretto's group, as well). As a leader, he enlisted Javier Vasquez's orchestra for the celebrated Ritmo y Sabor in 1981 on Barbaro.

As salsa's popularity in N.Y.C. began to wane, Aleman returned to California. Tito Puente discovered that he was hanging around Los Angeles and hired him to sing on a European tour; he also performed at the 1989 Olympic Games in Spain. The other singers standing next to him were Oscar de Leon, Celia Cruz, and Cheo Feliciano. After a couple of years, he joined Colombia's Orquesta Guayacán, and with them he delivered the single that would make him a legend: 1993's "Torrero" b/w "Victoria" (both songs were penned by Grammy-winning songwriter and arranger Nino Caicedo). The single sold over 800,000 copies globally. Aleman left to join Tito Puente, Jr. in the Original Latin All-Stars. That group delivered the hits "I Like It Like That," "Macarena," and "Oye Como Va." Aleman is based in Miami, but spends much of the year on the road playing in Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Mexico. In 2005, he reunited with the Original Latin All-Stars to re-record many of his hits for the album La Victoria. In July 2017, he reunited with former Barretto trumpeter and musical director Luiz Gonsalez for a festival tribute to their late boss in Puerto Rico. A compilation of many of Aleman's singles was issued under the title Amor Torero on Essential Media Mod in September. ~ Thom Jurek